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Top tip for the classroom - Go large!

Submitted by Education on Thu, 27/10/2016 - 13:05

From Artist Educator Deb Hoy

Children have a completely different approach to drawing and painting when they can move freely. Drawing big is engaging and liberating - it stimulates right-brain thinking so it's good to do in between more focused learning activities.

Cover a whole table in a large roll of paper and let children stand to work on it, or tape it to the floor or pin it to a large display board for them to work straight on to the wall. You can even work outside. It's great to spend a whole lesson developing big drawing techniques to give the children time to move past their excitement into thoughtful work and meaningful decisions.

Soft materials are good so that a variety of marks and sweeping gestures can be made. You can start with layers of paint (use sponge brushes and flat trays) or for dry work, use charcoal, chalk, and pastels. If you are working with different layers, let the paint dry and then come back to work over it using the dry materials.

To stimulate big drawing...

  • Introduce a narrative such as a key character. Let children decide on the landscape or environment – ask them questions to prompt their thinking – is it cold? What part of the world or universe are we in? Who lives here?
  • Play instrumental music to help set the tone and pace of drawing. You can ask children to draw what they hear, or just have music as background stimulation.
  • Use natural or found objects to start the drawing. Let children place them on the paper and join around them. They can link them together or build a picture around the objects. Making pathways around the objects also works well.
  • Mapping is also a good activity. Children can draw their home, their road, the vehicle they came to school in (scooters and walkers included) then add in things they saw on the way.
  • To focus abstract work, set limits that help children to push concepts further. Ask questions like, "What can you create by drawing only squares and circles?" or state, "Today we will just use three shades of green".
  • Try out different tools for drawing and painting with. What happens if you attach charcoal to sticks using masking tape, or paint brushes to sticks? What if you use rollers? How about drawing on tin foil or cellophane with felt tip pens? You can wipe off the marks with a cloth and start over again.

End the session with a discussion about what's been created. Remember, not every drawing needs to look like something - a variety of colours and marks built up in layers can be looked at and talked about in its own right. You can link the discussion to an artist like Jackson Pollock, or Joan Miro and ask children about any feelings or thoughts that come up when they look at it. Which bits do they like best and why? Which colours look good together?  What name shall we give it? The drawings can be worked over again and again another day or they can be used to create a display.